Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Today's Victim Is Tomorrow's Suspect"

Los Angeles, CA

Last week, on the LAPD Blog, Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph challenged critics of the LAPD to do a ride-along through Skid Row, that hell-hole in spitting distance of City Hall.

Mack Reed over at LA Voice took him up on it.

Like a twisted reality "Jungle Cruise", Mack journals this Conradesque landscape with the simple facts of his ride-along. Skid Row is, hands down, the worst that Los Angeles has to offer, and Mack doesn't flinch in his reporting of it.

Los Angeles has the largest Skid Row in the nation, comprising about 50 blocks of homelessness, insanity, drug business and prostitution. Over 400 registered sex offenders live there. Up to 10% of the residents test positive for HIV. Crack whores are turning tricks out of porta-potties. It is the largest open-air drug and weapons market in the country.

Recently, Chief Bratton put more boots on the ground, and the increased police presence has helped significantly, but it's going to take much more to put a real dent in the problems there. More police, more services, more real solutions to the problems that make Skid Row what it is.

Proposition 63, which is expected to put millions into local mental health facilities, might offer some relief, but so far no money has appeared. And that doesn't help those with substance abuse or health issues. Nor does it address the problem of homelessness directly.

The problems of Skid Row are the problems of national poverty writ large. If we can solve it here then there's some hope. But a single glance is enough to show that it's going to be a long, hard slog.

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

When my son and I went to L.A. this past March, I took a wrong turn late at night and ended up on on Skid Row. Not, not, NOT a comforting place to get lost.

angie said...

I think there was a story on NPR about Skid Row a while back. Something about hospitals dumping off indigent patients at Skid Row. You know how it is...if they can't pay their hospital bill & don't have a home to go home to, just drop them off somewhere where they can either turn a trick, score some drugs, get raped or rape somebody else & not have to worry about the voices in their heads.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

That's actually been a problem for years.

Months ago LAPD caught some LA County Sheriff's deputies dropping off a homeless, mentally ill man in Skid Row, claiming that they were taking him to the Midnight Mission. Caused quite the shitstorm. Started to come out that police from outlying communities were driving twenty miles to drop off their "problem cases" in Skid Row.

Got a lot of media attention, and the practice has, if not stopped, definitely gone into a more underground mode.